Like a fool, Tuku Morgan has been sold on John Key’s vision of the privatisation of prisons in NZ. Tuku, and other iwi ‘leaders’, bought John Key’s tale of mega-profits from the jailing of mostly Maori prisoners. Tuku tries to push the idea along the lines of ‘trying to help our people out’ with rehabillitation programs while they’re in jail.
BullSh!t! The fact is it’s all about huge profits achieved through cramming prisoners into jail, maintaining a high occupancy rate for more profits, cutting prisoner help programs for more profits, and cutting staffing levels to dangerously low levels for even more profiteering. It’s all about just one thing, and that means jumping for joy whenever Maori get thrown into jail and that means sucking from the tit of mega-international corporation Serco. The latest PR propaganda release parroted by a compliant mainstream media (MSM) to show Serco in a positive light is here: Anger over ‘Club Med Mt Eden’.
The real truth however, is rather abysmal.
Here’s the actual sad truth about the inhumane conditions for inmates, including the brutal treatment of young children, at Serco centres:
- Serco staff bullied & inappropriately used excessive violence to restrain a mentally ill 14yo boy, lead to his suicide — the youngest UK death in custody, in a Serco-run detention… facility.
- Serco staff refused to address pleas for medical assistance of a meningitis-affected prisoner for four days, dismissing it saying he was “at it” again and “he was probably suffering from the flu and was only looking for tablets”, despite knowing the potential consequences of this in light of his medical history (he had previously slipped into a coma previously from the illness prior to his prison term). Guards told him to take Panadol, their inaction and stalling resulted in his death. He had previously lodged a complaint about his lack of access to medical care for his condition in the Serco centre.
- Kilmarnock, the only privatised prison run by Serco in Scotland, has a higher than the national average number of deaths in custody.
- High levels of self-harm & suicide in Serco-run centres. Australia’s detention facilities have seen a fourfold increase in self-harm rates in the past year, coinciding with the awarding of Serco’s contract to run Australia’s facilities. Self-harm behaviour has “spread among adolescents” according to Dr. Louise Newman, head of the Detention Health Advisory Group.
- People in Serco facilities in the UK are sleeping in toilets to deal with overcrowding, with a “worrying” deterioration in access to GPs and health care and increases in violence and self-harm, following an unannounced visit by independent UK chief inspector of prisons, Anne Owers.
- ‘Squalid’ conditions with ‘institutional meanness’ with Serco denying detainees pillows and toilet seats – Owers.
- Suicide attempt and subsequent death of asylum seeker detained at Serco-run UK Colbrook Immigration Reception Centre. This followed obfuscation from Serco staff & the denial of help for his ongoing mental illness, including the removal of his anti-depressants upon his arrival in detention during a high at risk time for his mental stability.
- Similarities between desperate protests in Serco-run immigration centres and prisons in UK and Australia. In the past six months in Australia, we have seen recurring hunger strikes at Darwin and Villawood IDC, public protests involving self-harm at Villawood, and regular breakouts at Darwin IDC.
- A death in custody at Serco-run Curtin IDC due to unspecified ‘health condition’ after being found unconscious, unofficially reported to be a heart attack from a congenital past condition. This raises questions as to the provision of health care at Curtin – if staff were aware of his apparent condition, what measures were taken to prevent an incident like this occurring? If they were taken, why did they not prevent his death?
- The suicide of detainee at Villawood IDC followed Serco staff dismissing attempts from refugee advocates becoming involved in dissuading the detainee from the roof. This included a Serco staff member hanging up on a phone call from a concerned friend. The detainee jumped to his death a short time later. Following his death, Serco staff cancelled a previously planned memorial service for the deceased by detainees at midnight the morning of the service. No reason was given for this.
- The next day, a group of asylum seekers took to the roof while a hunger strike continued inside Villawood. After they publicly self-harmed and were denied water and food until their return to the ground a day and a half later, a second group of detainees took to the roof. A member of this group also self-harmed, slipping into unconsciousness. Following their return to the ground, their advocate has said Serco staff have punished their protest with separation detention.
- Allegations of sexual abuse of children at Serco-run Leonora Alternative Place of Detention, with Serco staff unable to prevent the alleged abuse occurring.
- Disturbing sexualisation of children in UK Serco immigration detention centres: “One parent spontaneously complained that he had found his daughter in the [UK Yarl’s Wood Immigration Detention] centre without any clothes on. His child explained that she had been encouraged to undress and play “sex games” instigated by another detained child. This father felt that there was inadequate supervision of the children within the center and after this incident he no longer allowed his children to play with the other children. Another mother spontaneously commented on the sexualized behavior of children within the center.
- Illness outbreaks of viruses and skin-based diseases affecting children in overcrowded UK Serco immigration detention centres.
- Serco combines violent prisoner populations with asylum seekers, resulting in “dangerous” environments (Owers) at UK immigration detention centres.
- Violent force from Serco staff ‘high’ (Owers) at UK’s Colnbrook IDC
- Serco use separation detention for long periods to manage difficult detainees in UK immigration detention, including separating mothers from children.
- Quality and quantity for meaningful education and training for detainees ‘insufficient’ (Owers) for long periods in UK immigration detention facilities.
- Excessive control & violent restraints used by Serco staff at UK Yarl’s Wood IDC on women and children. Generally aggressive and rude temperament of staff disrespectful of detainee human dignity.
- Yarl’s Wood IDC women detainees have taken Serco to the High Court in March 2010, questioning their inhumane treatment from guards. Some have stripped naked to protest “being treated like animals”
- On 8 February 2010, their peaceful protest was met by attacks from Serco staff and forced confinement in a locked corridor without access to water, food or medication.
- Detainee allegations of ongoing racist abuse from Serco staff in UK IDCs.
- Requests for medical assistance and welfare of children ignored, denied and/or substantially delayed by Serco staff at Yarl’s Wood IDC.
- Meetings between government agencies and Serco to consider the implications for women and children’s welfare of prolonged detention focused on public relations management and potential counter-legal concerns, instead of ongoing independent accountability for detainee health and dignity.
- Serco continues to refuse to be interviewed on its activities in running Australia’s immigration detention facilities. Why?
- A. Owers, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, ‘COLNBROOK IMMIGRATION REMOVAL CENTRE – SIGNIFICANTLY LESS SAFE’, Press Release, November 2007, <http://www.justice.gov.uk/inspectorates/hmi-prisons/docs/colnbrook_pn-rps.pdf>
- M. Wainwright, ‘Report into death of boy, 14, calls for reform of youth custody’, The Guardian, September 3, 2007, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/sep/03/ukcrime.prisonsandprobation/print>
- Associated Press, “New inquest ordered into teenage boy’s death in custody”, The Guardian, 22 January 2009, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/jan/22/youngpeople-deathsincustody/print>
- A. Lorek, K. Ehntholt, A. Nesbitt, E. Wey, C. Githinji, E. Rossor, R. Wickramasinghe, ‘The mental and physical health difficulties of children held within a British immigration detention center: A pilot study’, Child Abuse and Neglect, vol. 33, 2009, pp. 573-585 <http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/resources/documents/Campaigns/19432_full.pdf>
- K. Smith, “Inmate’s pleas for aid overlooked four days before death”, The Sunday Herald (Scotland), July 20, 2008, <http://www.sundayherald.com/news/heraldnews/display.var.2403695.0.inmates_pleas_for_aid_overlooked_four_days_before_death.php>
- S.Gaines, “Inmates sleep in toilets at overcrowded prison”, Sunday Guardian, July 22, 2008, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/jul/22/doncaster.prison/print>
- Institute of Race Relations, “Kenny Peter’s inquest points to asylum failures”, 5 October 2006, <http://www.irr.org.uk/2006/october/ha000013.html>
- E. Dugan, ‘Mothers detained in immigration centre hold ‘naked’ protest’, The Telegraph, April 11, 2008, <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/mothers-detained-in-immigration-centre-hold-naked-protest-807802.html>
- Y. Narushima, ‘Self-harm rates increase fourfold’, The Age, October 4, 2010,http://www.theage.com.au/national/selfharm-rates-increase-fourfold-20101003-162r8.html>
- L. Marshall, ‘Detained refugee dies in Perth hospital’, 31 August 2010, Independent Media Centre Australia, <http://indymedia.org.au/2010/08/31/detainee-dies-at-curtin-detention-centre>